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The Blue Letter Bible

Ecclesiastes 1 :: English Standard Version (ESV)

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All Is Vanity

Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:1 - The words of the Preacher,[fn] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:2 - Vanity[fn] of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:3 - What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:4 - A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:5 - The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens[fn] to the place where it rises.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:6 - The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:7 - All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:8 - All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:9 - What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:10 - Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:11 - There is no remembrance of former things,[fn]
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[fn] yet to be
among those who come after.

The Vanity of Wisdom

Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:12 - I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:13 - And I applied my heart[fn] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:14 - I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity[fn] and a striving after wind.[fn]
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:15 - What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:16 - I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:17 - And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 1:18 - For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
ESV Footnotes
Or Convener, or Collector; Hebrew Qoheleth (so throughout Ecclesiastes)
The Hebrew term hebel, translated vanity or vain, refers concretely to a “mist,” “vapor,” or “mere breath,” and metaphorically to something that is fleeting or elusive (with different nuances depending on the context). It appears five times in this verse and in 29 other verses in Ecclesiastes
Or and returns panting
Or former people
Or later people
The Hebrew term denotes the center of one’s inner life, including mind, will, and emotions
The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
Or a feeding on wind; compare Hosea 12:1 (also in Ecclesiastes 1:17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001, 2007, 2011, 2016 by Crossway Books and Bibles, a Publishing Ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

See detailed copyright information.

For more information on this translation, see the ESV Preface.

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